8/7/17

On Reading Multiple Books

I've had this post simmering in the back of my mind for a few weeks now, and seeing this post on Book Riot propelled me to actually write it.  I have multiple books on the go at the moment, and by multiple books, I actually mean five.  FIVE BOOKS.  The funny thing is that I actually wrote a post with an identical title back in 2014, where I explained my thoughts on the matter in a completely different way (click here if you want to see what 2014 me thought on the topic), or keep reading to see how 2017 me thinks differently.

In 2014, I'd just delved into e-reading, so I found myself with a physical book, an audiobook and an ebook on the go at the same time.  Bouncing between formats was fine, but I'd decided that this was too much and I was going to slow down and read only a physical book and an audiobook at the same time.  Flash forward three years, and I've upped that quotient, but strangely enough, I'm okay with this.  My feelings on the matter are very in line with the Book Riot article, where the writer talks about taking the time to savour a longer read, but knowing that she'll feel like a book slump is coming on if she reads the same book for too long.  THIS IS SO ME.

I read Shantaram last month and it took me exactly one month from start to finish.  I loved it, every moment of it, and I spread it out over the month on purpose, planning to read 30 pages per day.  In all honesty, part of me thought that it might end up being the only book that I read in July, but I found myself reading through my 30 pages on the train to and from work, and then reading another 30 pages in the evening, resulting in me being a day ahead of schedule.  So, at one point over the long weekend in July, I set aside Shantaram and read a thriller.  Then, there were a few scorching hot days where my brain was melting and I picked up a lighter read.  Every time I went back to Shantaram, it was because I was excited to pick it up, not because I was trying to get my pages read.  In the end, I ended up finishing the book ahead of schedule because I was enjoying it so much and tore through the last part of the book, but I absolutely loved both taking the time to savour it and allowing myself to read other things at the same time.

Yesterday, Tome Topple started and, although I haven't posted a formal sign-up post, I'm joining in.  I picked up Strange the Dreamer, which I hadn't planned to read this year, but it's been calling my name from the shelf.  It's just over 500 pages, so it satisfies the challenge, and I totally plan to savour it over the next couple of weeks because Laini Taylor's writing is utter perfection.  I also have a non-fiction book on the go from the library (the GTD method, which I heard about on Boho Berry's channel), plus I'm finishing up the Lux series and I have two audiobooks on the go.  And, you know what?  It's totally working for me.  Although it's a lot of books, I find myself gravitating towards what I'm in the mood to read, and I'm actually reading more this way than I have in previous years.  I've already read 52 books this year and, if I can stick to my reading plan, I may even finish all of the books that I had planned to read this year (for the first time EVER!)  I love that I'm still reading what I want, when I want, and haven't felt slumpy at all in recent months.

So, we'll see if there's another similarly titled post in three years' time about how reading multiple books isn't working for me, but for now it's working just fine.  If you read multiple books, or if you don't, please let me know why in the comments below!

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8/3/17

Leave Me - Gayle Forman


I read If I Stay back when I first started blogging, and didn't enjoy it much, but I really liked the movie when I was home sick one day and found it on TV.  I picked up Just One Day when the blogosphere went crazy over it and liked it, but I felt a little underwhelmed.  I chalked it up to the hype, and thought I'd give Gayle one more chance with Leave Me.  It's an adult novel about a mother, so I was ready to connect with the main character and feel all kinds of feelings.

Nope, nope, nope.  This book just did not work for me.  I stopped reading the physical copy and switched to the audio so that I could get through the story and see if the main character redeemed herself at all by the end, and was supremely disappointed.  First of all, the premise is that the main character has a woman who's so busy juggling her life (husband, twins and work) that she doesn't realize that she's had a heart attack.  While recuperating, she packs her bag and leaves.  Just up and leaves her family!  Although I understand her perspective of being the rock that holds the family together (I sometimes joke that my husband would be lost without me because he doesn't know the password to his own email account), there is absolutely no way that I would ever walk away from my family like that.  Granted, I've never suffered a major health crisis, and it's hard to predict with any certainty how I would react in that situation, but the whole point about fiction is to explore these imaginative situations and "experience" them in a safe way, like having a dream about doing something you'd never do in real life.  No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't connect with her actions, and the fact that she stayed away for a ridiculously long amount of time.  If the story had been spread out over a weekend, and she'd panicked and fled, and just needed a day to calm down and return home, I think I might have connected with her a bit better.  She was gone a LONG time, and it just didn't feel realistic to me.

If you're a fan of Gayle Forman's other books, you'll definitely like this one, as it has her signature writing style and character development.  It's no better or worse than her other books, but reading this has solidified my belief that I'm just not a Gayle Forman fan.  I wish I could say differently, because she's so loved by so many readers, but this is my unpopular opinion.

Note: I received an egalley of this book for review from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence my review of this book in any way.
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8/1/17

The Secret History of Us - Jessi Kirby

Jessi Kirby is one of those underrated writers that really deserves more credit.  My first of her books was Things We Know By Heart, which I read as a review book a couple of years ago.  I had Golden sitting on my shelves for a couple of years, and read that one shortly after.  I still have two of her books on my TBR and I'm grateful for that fact because each of her books have managed to wow me in a different way.  Some contemporary writers write a particular style of book that works for them (think Sarah Dessen and her perfect of growth and learning books), which is awesome and I love the predictable enjoyment factor.  With Jessi Kirby's books, however, I go into each one not really knowing what type of story to expect, which I LOVE.

The Secret History of Us is a thriller and opens with a girl being pulled out of the lake.  Everyone around her is certain that she's dead and her rescuer begins performing CPR.  The girl lives and its her story that we read, as she tries to piece together her memories of that fateful night.

The opening scene perfectly set the pace of the book; I was sucked into the story from page one and couldn't put it down.  Liv's character development is so real and genuine and I found myself really connecting with her as she tried to puzzle through her life.  It's a short, well-paced book and I flew through it in 24 hours, sneaking a page or two in whenever I could.  This book releases in the summer, and is perfect for a camping trip read, curled up by the campfire or stretched out in the sun on a warm dock, but will also be perfect to curl up with in front of a roaring fire when the weather turns chilly.

Note: A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not affect my opinion of this book in any way.

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7/31/17

Reading Round-up - July

A little part of me misses writing reviews, but not the full length kind.  So I thought I'd try something new and recap a little of what I read this month!


Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh
I've struggled with graphic novels over the past couple of years, and I think I've finally decided that the genre just isn't for me.  Although I have read a couple of exceptional graphic novels (Blankets and The Sculptor), on the whole I end up underwhelmed with most of the ones that I've picked up.

The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby
This was an eARC, so watch for my review tomorrow!

Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn
I wanted to love this one.  I wanted to have more Morgan Matson to read while I wait (not so) patiently for her next book.  But I was disappointed with this one, and it was just okay.  Not worth continuing with the series.


The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
I love, love, loved, LOVED this one.  Super sweet middle grade book, told through the eyes of a gorilla.  It reminded me a little of Ishmael, full of profound truths and fascinating observations.  A little gem of a book for sure.

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
I decided earlier this year to re-read the Throne of Glass series in preparation for FINALLY reading Empire of Storms, and I'm glad I did.  I'm re-reading it all on audio, and I've been enjoying it.

The Gammage Cup
I haven't DNFed a book since January, but I just couldn't get into this one.  I even switched it up and tried in on audio, thinking I could quickly get through five hours on audio, but nope. 


Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
I FINALLY READ SHANTARAM YOU GUYS.  If you've been following my blog for a while, you know that I picked this book up when I was pregnant (circa November 2012), but ended up putting it down when I developed pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel and the book was too heavy to hold.  I've wanted to pick it up since then, but it's also hella intimidating.  Not to mention the fact that anyone who saw it on my shelves raved about it, so the hype was a real thing.  But I LOVED IT.  And I'm so, so, so glad that I finally read it.  I laughed, I cried and I devoured the book in less than a month.  So worth it, and I'll be recommending this to others for sure.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Another eARC (summer books are READ!) and I'll have a review up for this one on its release date in early September!
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7/27/17

The Best of Adam Sharp - Graeme Simsion

I read, and LOVED, The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect in early 2015, so when I saw that Graeme Simsion was writing a new book, I knew that I had to get my hands on a copy.  I saw the book pop up on Netgalley, and requested a copy on a whim, feeling pretty confident that my request would be declined, so imagine my surprise when it was approved!  I immediately downloaded it and started reading.

I loved the book from page one, and knew that, although I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy for review, I just had to savour this one in printed format.  For one, it was a PDF, which means I have to read it on my iPad, rather than on my Kobo and it's a little harder on my eyes.  So I pre-ordered a copy from Chapters and dove into it as soon as it arrived.

Although I'm incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to read it in advance, I'm SO GLAD that I waited and read the hard copy because I would have missed out on something truly, truly incredible.  THIS BOOK HAS A PLAYLIST.  It might be included in the ARC (I didn't go back to check), but it's at the back of the physical book.  It lists off all of the songs referenced in the story, and THERE'S A SPOTIFY LIST THAT GOES WITH THE STORY.  It was mind-blowing you guys.  MIND BLOWING.  I love music (love, love, LOVE) and I'm always a sucker for stories that have music interwoven (like Amy & Roger's Epic Detour or Just Listen).  For me, it's a fine balance between making music an integral part of the story, and just name dropping music and artists (like Love is a Mix Tape, which felt like the writer was just showing off his musical prowess).  This book did the music and story blend so well; on a scale of one to ten it was utter perfection.

This book isn't long, but it took me close to a month to finish because I'd read a few paragraphs, listen to a song, read the lyrics to the song, go back and reread the paragraphs, listen to the song again and just feel all the feels.  I knew some of the songs referenced in the book because my dad raised me on a steady diet of oldies, but loved discovering new songs and learning to love the songs even more.  Patti Smith's "Because The Night" is a new all-time favourite because of this book.  I knew the song before, but I truly love the song now.

Music aside, The Best of Adam Sharp is an untraditional love story.  It's the story of Adam, who lives with a bit of regret over the great love of his life, Angelina, and how they ended their relationship.  Life gives them a very strange type of second chance, and it gives them a chance to consider what could have been as well as the paths that their lives took because they went their separate ways.  In some ways, this book felt like a Taylor Jenkins Reid novel because he portrays these messy relationships in a way that makes them feel completely real.  We, as human beings, aren't perfect and our relationships and lives are fraught with moments of "what if?"  This book captures all of those moments, and then some.

If you've read the Rosie books, please know that this book is very different.  It's heartfelt and raw and delicious and wonderful and utter perfection, especially if you opt to listen to the playlist as you read the book.

Note: A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not affect my opinion of this book in any way.

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7/12/17

A Blogging Identity Crisis

On April 15th, I started writing this post.  And by "writing," I mean that I wrote in a title for the post and hit save.  That's basically how I lock down my ideas, with the intention of coming back later to flesh out the idea.  This post has been simmering on the backburner of my mind for a while now, and I've opened the draft post a few times, but the words didn't come.  Until tonight.  Tonight I feel ready to share.

This November, I'll be celebrating six years of blogging.  SIX YEARS in this little corner of the internet.  It's still quite little after all these years, mainly because I have never really had enough time and energy to devote to networking.  I admire those bloggers that can pour so many hours into their blogs, and their devotion shows in reader engagement and content development.  I wish I could be like those bloggers and, to be honest, sometimes those feelings are what gets in the way of blogging. It's not a numbers game for me, but it's more a frustration over the quality of my content.  I shared a post a while back, sometime after Marko was born, where I reflected on the thought and care that I used to put into book reviews when I had the time and energy to write them.  As time has gone by, I've stopped writing reviews (except for review copies and if I have a burning need to say something) and have toyed with a number of bookish content ideas.  In all honesty, after so many years of writing about books, I think I'm just running out of bookish ideas.

Which leads me to the topic of this post -- my blogging identity crisis.  I've been wrestling with the idea of making this blog about more than books (and I even tried doing this last year, but didn't follow through).  I have other interests, and spend a lot of time watching videos or looking on Pinterest to support these hobbies (searching for bullet journal ideas on either one is a BLACK HOLE).  I've also discovered non BookTube channels lately, like Cheyenne (Studyrose on YouTube) who I discovered through her Plan With Me videos, but then got caught up in all of her other creative content.  I was watching a video the other day where she mentioned listening to inspirational podcasts, and I thought to myself, "Yes, I should find some of these podcasts to listen to on my commute."  And then I had a huge realization: I have been spending more time lately passively engaged with my hobbies instead of actively engaged with them.  I look for lettering inspiration and bullet journal layout ideas instead of picking up my pen and journalling.  I scroll through Goodreads to see what my friends are reading and watching TBR videos on BookTube instead of reading a couple of chapters of my current read.  I spend more time adding to my TBR pile than subtracting from it, or more time planning and deciding what to read than actually reading.

I'm going to start actively engaging in my hobbies, instead of passively engaging with them.  I'm going to write more on here, write more in my bullet journal, reading more books and, most importantly, reconnecting with my yoga mat.  I've just done two days in a row and am feeling amazing.  I'd like to keep this up ... for once.  And I'm going to blog about whatever the heck I feel like blogging about.  I thought about making a plan for how to roll out new features and content but, you know what?  I barely have time to blog, so I'm just going to go with it and see where it leads me.  If you've stuck with me this long, please know that I am eternally grateful for you and the fact that you pop by every now and then to read these words.  Let's see where this leads, shall we?

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7/10/17

Marko Monday [23] -- Going to the Zoo!

Holy smokes -- it's been a long, long time since I posted one of these!  Now that I'm slowly putting a tentative toe back into the blogging pool, I want to focus on the posts that bring me joy, and this is definitely one of them.  So, you'll see a few more regular picture book reviews popping up here and there, as well as photos of my beautiful boy.

Most of Marko's books come from Value Village, or other used bookstores.  We scored this one from our local used bookstore (which also sells amazing organic loose tea) and it was an immediate hit.  It's written to the tune of "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly," but features all of Marko's favourite jungle animals.  We read it again and again and again.  The brightly coloured pictures are paired perfectly with words that have the perfect read-aloud rhythm.

Tigers and snakes have been a household favourite since we watched the new Jungle Book a couple of months ago.  Although I struggle with the idea of supporting keeping animals in captivity, I finally decided that Marko would really gain a lot out of a trip to the zoo.  So we went, and he LOVED IT.  He got to touch a python, saw a real Shere Khan pacing back and forth waiting for meal time and saw a few of his other favourites up close.  My husband was absolutely blown away by seeing a real live giraffe (picture below).  On the way home, Marko said that his favourite part was the "cobra brastrictor" -- ha ha ha!



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